Am I required to have English Language competency certification?

23 September 2020 (updated: 08 October 2021)

Required English Language Competency – GP Trainee Recruitment 2023

HSE Circular 063-2020 English Language Requirements (PDF, 506KB)

The ability to communicate clearly with patients and colleagues is a key requirement for all healthcare professionals. Proficiency in the English language is therefore a core competency for NCHDs working in the Irish public health service.

Under Section 6 'Standard duties and responsibilities' of NCHD Contract 2010, NCHDs are required to be able to communicate effectively with patients and clients; and comply with statutory and regulatory requirements, corporate policies and procedures and human resource policies and procedures. 

The English language requirements for NCHDs are universally applicable. There is no distinction between training, non-training, intern or any other category or grouping.

Requirement for all NCHDs:

Exemptions of IELTS/OET

Registered with the Irish Medical Council in any of the divisions prior to 1 January 2015 Evidence of IMC registration prior to 1 January 2015
Completion of Medical degree in English from:    

  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand 
  • USA
  • UK


A copy of Medical Degree 
Completion of Irish state leaving certificate or A Levels (UK) and completion of a Medical Degree in English     

  • Copy of Irish state leaving certificate or A Levels (UK)
  • Copy of Medical Degree
  • Confirmation from university that the Medical degree was taught/examined solely in English 


Currently or previously employed as medical doctor by the HSE, whereby IELTS/OET was completed upon entering service to HSE     

  • Copy of IELTS/OET submitted to HSE (this does not have to be dated within 2 years of application but is required to meet the minimum scoring as outlined below
  • Confirmation of employment on application form.



Applicants that do not meet any of the exemptions outlined above are required to submit a valid, in date IELTS/OET certificate – see guidance below. 


IELTS (International English Language Testing System) certificate with an overall band score of 7.0 and a minimum score of 6.5 in each of the four domains – reading, writing, listening and speaking - on the academic test. The test must be undertaken no more than two years prior to the date of it being submitted at application stage.


OET (Occupational English Test) certificate with an overall minimum grade of B and a minimum grade of B in Listening, Reading, Writing and speaking. The test must be undertaken no more than two years prior to the date of it being submitted at application stage.

Please note that:

There are no exemptions to the above requirements

NCHDs communication skills must be independently assessed, by the employer or training body, as part of the application and interview process, before the NCHD recommended for appointment of contract of employment issued (excludes interns). 

Remedial Action:

Should the NCHD at any point not be able to demonstrate the required level of English language competency set out in Section 6 of the NCHD Contract 2010, the Employer may wish to consider remedial or other action under NCHD Contract 2010.


Potential applicants should address any queries that they may have regarding these requirements to the relevant local HR Departments.